Feelings of a “BBoy”: Lessons in Pushing One’s Limits and Overcoming Real Fear

*This is a guest post from Alden Tan from Alden-Tan.com*

I have a confession to make.  I hate it when everyone has their eyes on me. It makes me feel totally awkward and anxious.

Yet I encounter this situation on a regular basis.

Why? Because I’m a Bboy. You know, a breakdancer who can spin on his head and wow the crowd with gravity-defying moves.

Bboying is an imperfect art that always asks for perfection. It requires constant practice. You can’t slack off or else you are just get left behind.

It also forces us to overcome our fear in order to be great. A Bboy needs to showcase himself in a cipher (a dance circle) and take part in battles and competitions.

That’s when your real abilities are put to the test.

But beneath this layer of supposed awesomeness and dynamic movements is an unseen conflict. Nobody sees the hard work and effort we constantly put in; nobody sees the fear that lies inside of us.

Watch this great video to see what goes on behind the scenes:

Paranoid Android, a well-known Bboy practising alone in his garage.

Progress isn’t always linear

Needless to say, a Bboy is always honing his craft. He practices all the time just so he can improve.

I personally put in up to 12 hours a week practising.

Some sessions are great: I just feel the music and execute all my moves perfectly. But some sessions are lousy. I can’t do anything properly. My body feels lethargic, my mind, unmotivated. On those days, I just feel like going home.

But this is the part where champions stand out and push forward. 

This, to me, is the true meaning of pushing one’s limits. Most people typically see it as going against your maximum capacity, like your stamina. I see it more of constantly pushing yourself even though you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel; you can’t see results.

I think this is something everybody can learn from. Tough moments aren’t going to make you feel great. Sometimes it all just doesn’t even make sense. But when you really push yourself and keep trying, the rewards will be immense.

“You are already in pain. Get a reward out of it” 

-Eric Thomas, The Hip Hop Preacher

 ***

Coming out of my shell

Now that we have actually established what goes in the lab of a Bboy, let’s talk about what happens when we start dancing for others.

So I learnt the moves and it was time to prove myself. This alone was a new daunting aspect to Bboying, especially for me.

Dancing in front of others felt like an enormous task I had to overcome. I was just really worried about screwing up and looking stupid in front of others. I didn’t want to be laughed at.

No matter how hard I tried, it seemed that everyone else was better than me anyway. Why should I bother then? Who was going to care or notice me?

The worst is that I knew exactly what I had to do. The true challenge was to get over caring about what others thought of me. I just had to overcome that, face my fears and get over myself.

But as with life, it was a lot easier said than done….

***

Since then, wouldn’t say I got over my fear of dancing in front of others entirely, but I definitely made a heap of progress. Let this be a real account from a real person of what dealing with fear is like. Here’s how to overcome your fear.

The quick 4-step guide to overcoming fear

1- Go Through “The Force”

This is the part you most likely hate the most. It’s the force.

It’s literally forcing yourself to do something you fear even if you feel totally awkward about it.

It is this initial push that is going to set in motion the process to get what you really want from life. It’s the most uncomfortable part, but it’s also the most beneficial.

So yes, as much as you hate it, you just got to do it. You gotta step up.

I’ts not all flowers and sunshine. It’s a stone, which you step on for better things to come.

Phil’s Note: Here’s an AMAZING video about “The Force”

2- Take It Step-by-step

Now that you have gone through the force, it’s time to take things step-by-step.

Don’t try to be a hero. I told myself I wasn’t going to become a superb Bboy overnight. Unless you are a genius or just plain brilliant, you aren’t going to make waves right away.

That’s not to say I am discouraging you. I am just saying, you are only human.

Take things progressively. You may have a plan, but don’t overanalyze or over think things.

I had trouble dancing in front of others. I didn’t aim to be a superstar in one session. When I started off fighting this fear, I did it in numbers. First, I danced in front of everyone once and called it a day. I went home, revelled in it and recognized the progress. Then I did it twice. Then thrice, and so on, you see the pattern.

Step-by-step, you start heading in the right direction.

3- Remember: It’ll Get Better

I said forcing yourself to face your fear would mean feeling totally awkward.

But hey, here’s something good: The feeling of making real progress feels totally awesome.

You may not have conquered your fears entirely, but making progress alone feels great on its own. So wallow in it!  Reward yourself from taking the little aforementioned little steps you took. Recognize that good feeling you have and bring it forward.

Furthermore, people around you WILL recognize your progress too. Pretty soon your friends and family will notice the change in you and give you the compliments you deserve. Enjoy!

4- Fear Is Only A Feeling

Which can be toppled over simply with some knowledge.

That is true. That is why people like to suggest to ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen?”

Fight fear with knowledge. Stare at it in the face. Push yourself, make progress, recognize the good feelings that actually come along with it,  and watch as you start to soar.

***

Bboying alone has made me a more confident person in life. I don’t see why I can’t achieve greatness. I push myself and bring it the learnings to other aspects of my life. Consistent effort and overcoming fear are two forms of self-mastery to me, but the journey never ends.

As I learn and become more, I am always a student of the dance.

About the author: Alden Tan is a breakdancer who quit his job to follow his dreams of being a self-established writer and blogger. He blogs about inspiration and passion in their realest sense. You can check him his journey here

 Please share this post so more people can get inspired to overcome their fears!

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Posted on : 20, Mar 2012

26 Comments

  • Great article! And just in time! I started Parkour training which is my passion since I was ~14 y old. It’s scary but so fun, and such a good feeling when I succeed in doing a trick! That’s the moment when you feel more alive then ever. I know all the hard work will pay off eventually and for that I need to face the fear to conquer it.
    Thanks for this, I needed it! :)

    Cheers!

    • Man I actually think Parkour is one level ahead! When I watch videos of Parkour I get so impressed, especially due to the high level of risk involved.

      Yes, the feeling of executing a move perfectly is personally one of the best feelings in the world. It’s that feeling which to me counts as a reward for going against the fear.

      It’s not just an adrenaline rush, it’s something so special that it makes life worth living.

  • Nice man!! I think it’s SUCH a cool sport, love watching Parkour videos! Must be crazy scary at times though. Anything worthwhile takes such courage and persistence.. It’s just the way it goes!

    While editing the article, I kept thinking about my fears regarding jiu jitsu (fighting more advanced guys) and blog/business (taking risks, trying new things) and it was definitely inspirational for me too.

    If you ever make a parkour video, make sure to send it my way :)

    • Cool! I think Jiu Jitsu and other martial arts disciplines are next forms of fitness and training. I find that since it’s about self-defense, it’s a whole new experience as it has got to do with your well being!

    • Hehe will do. I only started 2 weeks ago so I have a lot to learn yet. But I learned some basic stuff and it felt so good! Very happy at the moment :D I wish I started it long time ago, all this years it was on my mind. But, how they say..The best moment to start anything is NOW!

      It’s that feeling of freedom that attracted me to it when I was younger, watching them running, jumping, where nothing can stop them, so energetic and alive.

      We just have to start, if it is something that’s always on our mind and it can make us feel more alive – then we have to just start. And step by step everything will go right, we will be so glad that we didn’t stay behind the start line watching everybody living the moment while we say: “maybe tomorrow”.

      • “we will be so glad that we didn’t stay behind the start line watching everybody living the moment while we say: “maybe tomorrow”.”

        Great quote!

      • “we will be so glad that we didn’t stay behind the start line watching everybody living the moment while we say: “maybe tomorrow”.”

        Great quote, might use that one day in a post! :)

  • first off, it is so cool that another dancer is a blogger. i am a popper/ tutter/ whatever-you-wanna-call-it. it took me around 3 years to dance in front of people. my friends used to BEG me to get in the circle…but everyone was better than me. i got over that and started to win battles. then i faced the same horrific fear when i had to perform on stage. now i’m here again facing the same challenge as a writer. putting myself out there still isnt comfortable. especially facing tremendous rejection (which i liken to losing battles).putting in work when you doubt yourself makes it even harder. but you’re right. it gets better, and it’s only fear. thank you for putting it into a context i could especially identify with.

    • Writing is definitely a HUGE mental battle! I sometimes put in 10+ hours into my post just because I tweak & re-tweak so damn much, always doubting and second-guessing..

      At some point, you just have to accept that no art is ever perfect, and that whatever you create is your best that day!

      Keep on pushin’ brother! :)

      PS If you ever want to write a guest post for TFGL lemme know!

      • Actually, I was thinking about that before you offered, so, thank you. I want to make sure the piece is something that will resonate with your audience though. :)

  • Hey Anthony,

    That’s awesome! I am not really savvy in the area of popping, locking and what have you. Have you heard of World Order? Those guys are brilliant, and the main guy, Genki Sudo, used to be an MMA fighter (Phil you should check him out too).

    Oh man I used to hate it when my friends bugged me in throwing down randomly, and I still get nervous thinking about it.

    But as you relate this to putting yourself out there in writing and blogging, in whatever challenges you face in life, you can easily extend it to other areas. If you can conquer your fear in dancing, you can definitely do it in writing too.

    Or seek inspiration from others. If he or she can do it, so can you.

    • I haven’t heard of world order, but I will look into them for sure.
      Yea, the greatest thing I took from being a battle dancer (I use this term to differentiate between that and studio dance) was that I learned to just go forward even if I am afraid.
      I am discovering that isn’t the hard part. The hard part is staying motivated through rejection. In my dancing life, I haven’t encountered a lot that prepared me for that. I mean, I guess it is kind of like losing a battle to someone better than you, but at least you can see in front of you what it is that you were rejected for. You lose based on the elevated skill level of your opponent in a match. However, when you are constantly turned down for your writing, then it feels a little different.
      In fact, the other day (just joking) I referred to myself as the William Hung of the writing world. HAHA.
      I think having a sense of humor about it helps. :)

      • As I have learnt in my experience: The real battle is against yourself, and nothing more.

        Yup, rejection feels like crap. Losing feels like crap. Losing feels like a double-edged sword to me sometimes. When I lose to someone I taught I could win, I felt dejected. When I lose to someone I know is way better than me, I console myself like, “Oh that wasn’t so bad! It was expected anyway!”

        As I have blogged before, failure only comes when you stop trying. And in trying, failure will definitely set in from time to time.

        Even if I win or a lose battle, I still bring home something. I believe this can be applied to all other areas in life. Just keep trying, push yourself and one day the rewards will definitely come!

  • I love this article so much because its so resourceful for me in my life right now. it is very inspirational and i look forward to using the 4-step guide to overcoming fear.

    • Awesome Envera, very happy this came at the right time for you. Rock it!!

  • This may or may not have been the right time for me to read this article.

    I spotted my Goliath on the mountain today, a 55+ft cliff drop at Mammoth Mountain. Take off is a bit sketchy but it’ll work and landing looks pretty premo for the location. I went up and spotted it from the top and almost got vertigo, the thing is freaking massive.
    My roommates, friends and family are really against me killing myself but I’m all about progression, scaring the hell out of my self and freaking going for it.

    • Holy crap man… What’s the biggest cliff drop you’ve done before?

      • an honest 25ft to flat was the biggest I’ve done. It was pretty pre-season and I was a lot “stupider” (as in i just said “hell yea!” and went for it).
        I was riding with a friend the other day and i said, “See, it works out real well. I’m crazy and im stupid, so I just huck anything” Not that I’m actually stupid but I do have ample amounts of crazy.
        Today I took a quite a few 5-10 footers and i dropped atleast a 15 footer that scared the piss out of me today. Thing was burly and I spent hardly any time spotting it. It was dope out there today.

        I was thinking about this article, trying to figure out where my ‘disconnect’ was with it. My fears of hucking off of cliffs have potentially huge physical damage and pain involved. I completely understand and relate to the social/economic/mental damage, believe me, I think it’s as real as the physical, I’m just a little less willing to throw my body out there than I am my reputation or ego.
        I lapped 22 all day – Here’s one of the drops I want to send before the end of season, “Diving Board”. It’s the first real ski shot of the video. http://ri2.me/856916 People have told me its 30-35. Freaking looks bigger than that!

        • Damnnn that’s unreal man. Tons of respect for doing those- as someone who’s moderately scared of heights this fascinates me.

          I think there’s definitely a difference between “fear” and between “danger” .. as in fear is built up in the mind, whereas danger is a survival mechanism. I think in this case it’s definitely more danger.

          Not saying you shouldn’t go for it but at this stage it’s definitely a whole different ball game than ego/apperance.

          Good luck man, let me know how it goes!!

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